Mabel's Busy Day (1914)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Slapstick  |   Run Time - 15 min.  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Despite the presence of both Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand, Mabel's Busy Day is only an average silent comedy short. Since both stars made numerous shorts each year, it's only natural that most would fall into the "fine, but nothing to write home about" category, as Busy certainly does. Indeed, if it were being judged solely on its story, Busy wouldn't even make it as high as "fine," for there really is no story, merely a situation: Normand is trying to sell hot dogs at a racetrack, Chaplin gets into some quarrels. Indeed, when Chaplin and Normand depart together at the end of the film, it comes out of nowhere and makes no real sense. Fortunately, Chaplin and Normand's comedic skills and chemistry make up for the woeful deficiencies in the story. Chaplin is basically playing his familiar character here, but a bit rougher: he doesn't pour on the charm or the vulnerability as much as he usually does, and there's a more pronounced scrappiness to him, and the variation is a nice change. Normand is lovely, broadly comic yet touching and quite capable of engaging the audience's fondness with ease. Chester Conklin is also on hand, mustache and all, to add some comic moments as a cop, and he's very amusing.